Fifteen years after same-sex marriage was legalized across Canada, anti-2SLGBTQ+ groups and individuals, who are largely faith-based in orientation, continue to oppose the well-being of Canada’s Two-Spirit, trans, and queer community.
The anti-LGBTQ lobby in Canada operates through a mutually beneficial relationship between controversial litigants and defendants, conservative (sometimes Christian) legal organizations, and far-right media outlets.
Charles McVety, University President & Political Activist
Bill 123, referred to as the “Better for People, Smarter for Business Act” was first read on October 6, 2020, and is due for its second reading -- meaning it’s closer to being passed by the Ontario legislature. The act would allow the Canada Christian College, an Evangelical Christian Bible college founded and run by evangelical Christian leader Charles McVety, to become a university that can grant Bachelor of Arts and Sciences to students.
McVety is close friends with Ontario Premier Doug Ford. In 2019, Ford’s government defended itself from allegations of favoritism when the annual “Jesus in the City” parade, which McVety is the chief promoter of, received a $12,078 grant under the Celebrate Ontario program.
In response to Bill 213, former Premier Kathleen Wynne questioned “why this government would extend the mandate of the most publicly and vocally homophobic man in Ontario.”
McVety has a long history of campaigning against the LGBTQ+ community, leading the fight against marriage equality as the Senior Director of the Defend Marriage Coalition, a lobby group seeking to repeal the Civil Marriage Act that legalized same-sex marriage.
In 2010, his religious talk show was taken off air for explicitly homophobic remarks, where, in addition to calling the Toronto Pride Parade a “sex parade,” he also made suggestions that “homosexuals prey on children.” Xtra magazine reported that in speaking out against the Ontario sex-ed curriculum, McVety made the following statement on his show, which ultimately lead to its cancellation:
“Why? Because unfortunately, they have an insatiable appetite for sex, especially with young people. And there's not enough of them, so they want to proselytize your children and mine, our grandchildren and turn them into homosexuals. And they’ve seized our Ministry of Education and now they’re implementing this! Back when we led the campaign to defend marriage in, oh, in 2005, we warned that once they legalized same-sex marriage, then that will be the legal groundwork for them to change our curriculum and to start teaching this to our children. Well, here it is, my friends. Something that we said five years ago is now alive and well in the province of Ontario.”
In September 2019, McVety and street preacher David Lynn planned a march through The Village, Toronto’s LGBTQ+ oriented neighbourhood, in response to several incidents earlier that year in which Lynn was detained and charged after he and others preached anti-LGBTQ+ messages over loudspeakers in the Village, and allegedly instigated fights. They were prevented from entering the Village by an organized group of antifascists, faith leaders, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and allies.
David Lynn, Street Preacher & Church Founder
David Lynn is a prolific street preacher who mainly ministers in what he calls “Sodom and Toronto.” He is the founder and pastor of Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries (CFM), an evangelical, pentecostal church that includes his street preaching ministry, “Dundas Square Church.” According to Lynn, the City of Toronto revoked their rental agreement with the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre following his charges and attempted march, citing the city’s Hate Activity Policy. Previously, they had been using the centre for worship services.
Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries is supported in part by Canada Helps, which acts as a payment processor for Canadian Charities. Canada Helps declined to disassociate themselves with Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries when the Canadian Anti-Hate Network informed them of the group in September 2020.
Prior to the Crown dropping the mischief and disturbing the peace charges against Lynn in May of 2020, multiple Christian advocacy organizations applied to intervene in his case: the Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), and the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA).
Third-party intervention in legal proceedings is a significant strategy that groups can use to provide input on cases that they have a vested interest in. Socially conservative organizations have applied, and largely been approved to, intervene in several cases involving hate and/or discrimination directed at the LGBTQ+ community. This has included numerous legal proceedings involving notorious anti-LGBTQ+ activist Bill Whatcott.
William “Bill” Whatcott, Hate-Monger & Former Nurse
Whatcott’s interactions with the legal system are extensive, and his court cases have often featured intervention from religious and civil liberties groups, including the CLF, the ARPA, the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), the Faith and Freedom Alliance (FAFA), the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE), and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
In 2017, the JCCF intervened in the interest of Whatcott in a complaint made to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal by Morgane Oger, a trans woman who ran as an NDP candidate for the provincial legislative assembly. Despite not living within the riding Oger was running in, or reviewing her platform in detail, Whatcott resolved to prevent her election, entirely on the basis of her identity as a transgender woman. In his view, this made her unsuitable to hold public office. To accomplish this, he distributed 1500 copies of a flyer he wrote, titled “Transgenderism vs. Truth in Vancouver-False Creek,” which suggested that transgender identity was dangerous and sinful. The JCCF, represented by Jay Cameron and Marty Moore, submitted that freedom of expression was especially paramount during an election, and that to deny Whatcott what they characterized as his contribution to the “marketplace of ideas,” would have “dire consequences.”
Neo-Nazi Paul Fromm runs the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE), which also intervened on Whatcott’s behalf. The Tribunal panel found that Fromm’s oral submission in the proceedings “appeared to be rooted in his own beliefs about the case” and his written submission to be “65 pages of dense, disorganized and barely intelligible text.” They wrote in their reasons in their decision against Whatcott that “CAFE’s participation in this complaint should not be used to support further applications to intervene at this Tribunal or any level of court.”
Less than a year later, Fromm attended the JCCF George Jonas Freedom Award Dinner.
Whatcott is currently facing charges in Toronto for willful promotion of hatred after infiltrating the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade with a group of other activists under the banner “Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumer Association” by dressing in full body spandex suits which concealed their identities.
As they marched along the parade route, they distributed anti-LGBTQ+ screeds, packaged to appear as “zombie safe sex” materials.
John Carpay and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
Unlike CAFE, the JCCF is well established in the world of third party intervention and the legal system at large. While JCCF describes itself as non-partisan, its list of current and past cases demonstrates a focus on supporting socially conservative causes. In addition to engaging in third-party intervention, the JCCF provides legal representation, pro bono, to many socially conservative groups and individuals.
The founder and president of the JCCF is Calgary lawyer John Carpay, who made headlines in 2018 when he compared the pride flag to swastikas at a conference hosted by Rebel Media.
“How do we defeat today's totalitarianism?” Carpay asked a crowd attending the Rebel conference. “You've got to think about the common characteristics. It doesn't matter whether it's a hammer and sickle for communism, or whether it's the swastika for Nazi Germany or whether it's a rainbow flag, the underlying thing is a hostility to individual freedoms.”
In 2015, the JCCF intervened on behalf of the evangelical Christian school Trinity Western University (TWU) in their case against the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) for denying them accreditation of their new law school. LSBC was one of three law societies that denied accreditation to Trinity Western University, the others being law societies from Nova Scotia and Ontario.
At the time, Trinity Western University required all students to sign a community covenant that prohibited sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
They ultimately lost the case. In 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law societies were within their rights to deny accreditation, since the mandatory community covenant was discriminatory against 2SLGBTQ students.
“Those who wish to get drunk, view pornography, use profane language, gossip, lie, cheat, have sex outside the marriage of one man and one woman, use marijuana, or use tobacco on campus, are free to attend university elsewhere,” wrote the JCCF.
Carpay has a long history of defending Christian right-wing interests, as well as supporting so-called free speech organizations that have invited white supremacists to the University of British Columbia, and is often featured by Rebel Media and The Post Millennial.
In 2018, the JCCF filed a constitutional challenge against the Alberta legislature for Bill 24, which would protect students’ privacy by prohibiting schools from informing parents if their children were involved in gay-straight alliance clubs. The challenge was filed on behalf of 24 faith-based schools, as well as a handful of parents. In legal documents presented by lawyers for the JCCF, GSAs were referred to as “ideological sex clubs” where children were shown graphic images of pornography. The judge found there was no evidence that explicit materials were promoted through gay-straight alliances.
He has also spoken against proposed legislation by the Liberal government that will ban conversion therapy, a thoroughly discredited and demonstrably dangerous practice that purports to use “therapeutic” techniques to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity from queer or trans to straight or cis, in Canada.
In response to emailed questions from the Canadian Anti Hate Network, Carpay said that his organization focuses on protecting the constitutional freedoms of all Canadians, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Our advocacy work is focussed on defending Charter rights and freedoms, primarily Charter section 2 fundamental freedoms, but also Charter section 7 rights to “life, liberty and security of the person,” he wrote in a written response. “We see things through the lens of the Charter rather than through a lens of ‘LGBTQ+ issues’ or issues of other groups of Canadians.”
In a question about the fight against conversion therapy, he directed us to previously published legal papers on the JCCF’s website which argue that overbroad laws on conversion therapy can also be discriminatory to LGBTQ+ people.
Most established medical organizations make it clear that conversion therapy has terrible reprecussions for those it is imposed on. In 2015, the Canadian Psychological Association issued a policy statement on the practice:
“The Canadian Psychological Association opposes any therapy with the goal of repairing or converting an individual’s sexual orientation, regardless of age… Conversion or reparative therapy can result in negative outcomes, such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction.”
Appearing in The Interim, Carpay wrote “Bill C-8 ignores the fact that the vast majority of children experiencing gender identity disorder will outgrow it by the time they reach the age of 18, provided that they are allowed to go through puberty.”
Campaign Life Coalition
Campaign Life Coalition
The Interim is a newspaper published by Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), an anti-abortion, anti-2SLGBTQ+ political lobby group that also organizes the yearly March for Life in Ottawa. In 2017, The Interim named Carpay one of its “Great Canadian Pro-Lifers” for his work as “an outspoken advocate for and defender of the right to free speech.”
Though they have been mostly known for their heavy pro-life agenda, the CLC has also been very active in campaigning against 2SLGBTQ+ rights. On their website, they describe the legalization of same-sex marriage as the “abolishment of traditional marriage” and said, “In order to satisfy a tiny number of gay-activists, so called homosexual ‘marriage’ was legalized.”
They also presently have an online petition with 13,960 signatures titled “Helping LGBTQ Individuals Change Is Not A Crime,” that advocates against Bill C-6, which would criminalize conversion therapy.
The CLC has recently been critical about the Conservative Party of Canada’s stance on 2SLGBTQ+ rights and abortion, concerned that social conservatives have not been prioritized by previous leaders. In the recent Conservative leadership race, the CLC endorsed MP Derek Sloan first and Leslyn Lewis second.
Sloan was given a grade of “A+” by the CLC’s “Voter Guide to Conservative Leadership Race,” He is currently fundraising for the next federal election based on his public opposition to Bill C-8, and told his supporters that he hopes to raise $25,000 this month.
Campaign Life Coalition is also the original founder of LifeSiteNews, a traditionalist Catholic media outlet that has been described as part of “the Catholic alt-right” by one American theologian. The company split into two separate incorporated entities in 2009 - one in the United States, and one in Canada, both of which are still run by the original founders. Presently, the website functions independently from the CLC though they continue to align politically as anti-choice and anti-2SLGBTQ+.
In 2018, the American 2SLGBTQ+-interest magazine The Advocate, called LifeSiteNews, “One of the Most Anti-LGBTQ+ Online Outlets.”
In the last year alone, they have published pieces such as “Even mainstream dictionaries have bowed to transgender insanity,” “White House getting gayer? Trump should exercise caution regarding gay affirmation,” and “What do homosexuality and COVID-19 have in common?”
In January 2020, Watchdog group Media Matters for America covered how coverage from LifeSiteNews influenced anti-trans legislation in the US, stating:
“In October, right-wing media produced obsessive coverage about a Texas custody battle involving a trans child, using dangerous misinformation about trans health care. Anti-LGBTQ+ sites LifeSiteNews and The Daily Wire, which is conservative media figure Ben Shapiro’s outlet, published coverage of the case that earned some of the highest engagement on Facebook -- more than 2.78 million interactions during just one week.”
LifeSiteNews, despite billing itself as a “news and information service,” has also taken on a role in various legal battles surrounding anti-abortion and anti-2SLGBTQ+ activism. For example, they have hosted a petition addressed directly to Premier Doug Ford and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, demanding that they drop charges against Whatcott, and “to stop Canada from becoming like the totalitarian communist states of the 20th century.”
LifeSiteNews has frequently included links to online fundraisers or banking information for how to donate to the legal funds of Whatcott and other individuals facing legal battles related to anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and hate.